More than 200 Facebook users have reported suspicious behaviour online since the launch of an anti-abuse application last month, according to new figures.
Investigators saw more than a seven-fold increase in the number of reports from the social networking site since the launch of the safety button aimed at protecting children from bullying, suspected grooming and other abuse.
A total of 211 people used the site’s ClickCEOP button to report abuse since July 12, compared with just 28 users who reported abuse through the site in the month before its launch.
In all, Facebook users downloaded the application more than 55,000 times in its first month, leading to more than 20,000 people getting regular online safety updates and more than 5,000 accessing help, advice and support, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) Centre said.
The safety button has been at the centre of an embarrassing public row for Facebook, one of the world’s most popular social-networking sites, which resisted requests for a so-called panic button on all young people’s profile pages.
The American company faced an unprecedented fusillade of pleas from Ceop, police chiefs, politicians, charities and campaign groups who supported its use.
Joanna Shields, Facebook’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: “There is no single answer to making the internet safer but Ceop has taken a great step forward by setting up their ClickCEOP page.
“It now means that they can have an ongoing dialogue with thousands of Facebook users, educating them about how to stay safe online in a place and language they are familiar with.”
Emma-Jane Cross, chief executive officer of the Beatbullying charity, said it was promising to see the button had “such a clear impact within a relatively short space of time”.
The issue was thrust into the headlines in March following the conviction of serial rapist Peter Chapman who posed as a young boy on the site and went on to kidnap and murder teenager Ashleigh Hall.
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